If you've ever handed your kindergartener a pair of maracas or a rainstick, you know that he loves to play with them for hours on end. Even shaking up the coins in a piggy bank can provide endless entertainment! Kids are fascinated by sounds, and it's important for your child to learn to identify the sounds around him. Put his ears to the test with this activity that uses different objects (like pennies and rice) in containers to create different sounds. Your child will listen closely to identify which objects make soft sounds and hard sounds, and then he'll match them up! In addition to practicing his listening skills, he'll get to practice the early science skills of observation and categorization in a fun way!
Small containers, not see-through (like a small box or an empty coffee can)
Various objects that represent hard and soft sounds, like rice, beans, pebbles, sand, salt, metal washers, coins, paperclips, etc.
What You Do:
Prepare for this experiment by selecting 4-5 of the objects listed above ahead of time. Use different objects that will make different kinds of noises, like loud sounds, soft sounds, hard sounds, etc.
Take two containers for each object, and put the objects into the containers so that each object has a matching pair. For example, if you have 5 objects you'll need 10 containers. If you use a coffee can with a see-through plastic lid, it's best to tape a piece of paper, cut to size, on the inside of the lid so you can't see through it. Another simple alternative is to blindfold your child.
Number the containers from 1-10. Order doesn't matter since your child will be matching up the containers with the same sound.
Get out the blank paper and label it with the heading, "Matching Pairs."
Conduct the experiment! Invite your child to shake each container and describe the sound he hears. Shake it hard, soft, up and down, and side to side! Write down his observations, or if he's started writing let him write them down.
Now using only his ears, his job is to look for sounds that match! When he finds a pair, have him record the numbers of the matching containers on the sheet.
After he's paired off each container, peek inside to see if his guesses match up with the real thing. Then talk about the experiment, asking questions like, How could you tell the difference between sounds? Which ones were hardest to tell apart? Which ones sounded the most alike?
To add more fun, try this experiment with the whole family and have a contest to see who's got the most sensitive ears!
Latrenda Knighten has spent 19 years teaching in a variety of elementary school classrooms, from kindergarten through fifth grade. For nine of those years, she taught kindergarten. She also served as an elementary school math and science specialist.